Blow-By-Blow Account of How Saudi Stampede Happened – Emir of Argungu

Kebbi State Amirul Hajj and Emir of Argungu, Isma’il Muhammad Mira has said the tragedy in Mina last Thursday occurred when Saudi security blocked the way which thousands of pilgrims were passing for the symbolic rite of devil stoning.
He said the ensuing crush was as a result of the stumble from the barricade by the Saudi security officers.
The emir, who narrowly survived the stampede, was speaking with BBC Hausa on Saturday.
He described how a Justice with the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court, Abdulkadir Jega became a victim out of their 16-member team that headed for the stoning.
“We reached Mina around 3a.m., and we said our early morning prayers there. By 6a.m., we left our tent for the Jamarat to do the stoning.
“We were walking up to around 10:30a.m., when we stumbled. In front of us, about 50-100 metres, we sighted Saudi security officers barricaded the road. That was how everybody stumbled. Those at the back were not aware that the front was no longer moving, and those at the front were stopped by the Saudi security,” he said.
That, according to the emir, happened when the sun was too hot. “I noticed it was 10:30a.m. at the time, because the sun was so hot and I was even talking to the late Justice Abdulkadir that it was not up to 12 noon, it was just 10:30a.m., but look at how the sun is so hot.
“That was how the crush continued up to the time people began to climb up to whatever that was there. Those at the back stepped on those in their fronts to climb. And the security officials were being increased in number to ensure that they effectively blocked pilgrims from passing through.
“Then, comes cry from everywhere. Some male pilgrims desperately trying to escape even naked. And corpses litter everywhere. Those people (securities) stopped us amidst the corpses.
“I did not get out of the place until 3p.m. It was God that saved me out of the place. And out of our group, 16 of us, only Justice died. But the kind of horror that we witnessed, could not be imagined.
“To say that the corpses totalled 700 is just ridiculous. As an Amirul Hajj, in one of the hospitals we visited trying to determine our victims, the list of the dead people in that hospital alone was more than 1,200. And a long queue of ambulances was still there.
“Only God knows what they planned and what happened at the place. But what we know is that they barricaded our way. They were the only ones who know the reasons.”
Asked whether he thinks the Saudi authorities are to bear the responsibility of the incidence, he said “All the vehicles and the security officers that stopped us belonged to Saudi Arabia.”
On the plea by Nigeria for a thorough investigation on how the stampede occurred, the emir said “This is not the plea of Nigeria alone. This is the plea of the international community, because many nationals are involved.
“That was how they stocked us in that area: young, aged, males and females. It’s hard to imagine, unless for one who witnessed it.”
He then advised that to forestall future recurrence, there was the need of “A proper preparation and arrangement of the process, and may be the issue of quota system, like women could be supplanted by their male counterparts. May be that will help.
“Secondly, I think all the countries need to be part of the Hajj preparation, because these people only think that the Hajj is for them alone, they arrange it the way they like. If all the Muslim countries would have a stake in the way the Hajj, preparation and the security arrangement are done, I think that will help.”

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